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Cloudy With a Chance of Meatballs 3D(2009)
A scientist tries to solve world hunger only to see things go awry as food falls from the sky in abundance.
For more about Cloudy With a Chance of Meatballs 3D and the Cloudy With a Chance of Meatballs 3D Blu-ray release, see Cloudy With a Chance of Meatballs 3D Blu-ray Review published by Martin Liebman on June 20, 2010 where this Blu-ray release scored 4.0 out of 5.
Directors: Phil Lord, Christopher Miller
Writers: Phil Lord, Christopher Miller
Starring: Bill Hader, Anna Faris, James Caan, Bruce Campbell, Mr. T, Andy Samberg
» See full cast & crew
Cloudy With a Chance of Meatballs 3D Blu-ray Review
Reviewed by Martin Liebman, June 20, 2010
It only took about three months for a studio to get a title to market for general off-the-shelf release, but early 3D Blu-ray adopters now have something to actually watch on their 3D HDTVs besides an overpriced "Samsung Exclusive" copy of Monsters vs. Aliens and the sampler disc bundled with Panasonic's 3D Blu-ray player. The historic release: Cloudy With a Chance of Meatballs, a charming 2009 computer-animated picture that enjoyed a 3D run in theaters and is now guaranteed to sell to pretty much anyone who's bought a 3D Blu-ray system over the past few months as well as to those who are only now jumping into the fray with Sony's own line of Bravia 3D HDTVs. Want more good news? Meatballs is currently listed on Amazon for a cool $28, which is really not a premium over other Sony new releases (Chloe is clocking in at $31, and A Prophet at $29, both standard 2D Blu-ray titles). It's also sporting several lossless soundtracks and some of the extras from the 2D release, and even better, two more 3D titles from Sony -- Monster House and Open Season -- are coming soon. It's no surprise that it's Sony -- an ardent Blu-ray supporter going back to the format's inception -- getting it right straight out of the gate, and while there are still a few minor kinks to work out, Cloudy With a Chance of Meatballs 3D makes for an admirable and must-own 3D Blu-ray title.
As with the Monsters vs. Aliens 3D review, this one will deviate from site norm in recognition of the historical significance and novelty of the title; the above-linked review of the film's 2D counterpart contains a full-length Cloudy With a Chance of Meatballs movie overview. Beginning with the relevance of the release itself, Cloudy With a Chance of Meatballs represents a true "first" in the home video industry, the title the initial release of what will be many Blu-ray 3D titles available for purchase at a reasonable consumer-friendly price and not tied to a particular hardware manufacturer and bundle. Sony's ensured that the disc stands out on store shelves, too; it's packaged in a nifty clear Blu-ray case of the same dimensions as a standard blue case and features a semi-transparent cover art scheme that gives the presentation something of a faux-3D appearance that's quite attractive. The front cover, and the Blu-ray disc proper, both sport a Blu-ray 3D banner across the top. For those that still accidentally pick up this release over the 2D-only package or who wish to view it on a standard 2D Blu-ray player, Sony has included a 2D version of the film, and yes, it works on a PlayStation3 running the latest firmware version, 3.30. This makes the disc completely future-proof, meaning buyers without 3D hardware can pick it up worry-free and be ready to enjoy a 3D version of the film later on down the line (note that a 3D-specific leaflet included with the disc states that it should work with "existing" Blu-ray players, presumably meaning both stand-alones as well as the PS3; unfortunately, no stand-alone that's not 3D compatible was readily available for testing). The single drawback is that this iteration of Cloudy does lack several of the goodies found on the standalone 2D version, notably the commentary track, the interactive features Splat Mode! and Flint's Food Fight Game, and the DVD and digital copies. Nevertheless, and considering the inclusion of three lossless soundtracks, two versions of the film, and a few extras, it's hard to find fault with Sony's release in any way, shape, or form, at least with regard to the packaging, support, and basic technical specifications.
Of course, there were bound to be a few quibbles with the disc, but there's nothing here that even comes close to the four major disappointments that plagued the Monsters vs. Aliens 3D release, namely the absence of a lossless soundtrack, a shortage of extras, incompatibility with the Playstation3 for 2D playback, and the lack of an off-the-shelf and reasonably-priced availability. Again, though, Blu-ray 3D fans need understand the differences between Sony's Cloudy release and DreamWorks' Monsters release; the former is a full-fledged mass market release whereas the latter is a bundled disc that was probably rushed out the door to get it stuffed in Samsung bundles, though the absence of a lossless track is still somewhat baffling. Still, the smart money says that, in time, DreamWorks will re-release Monsters vs. Aliens for general resale with most, if not all, the bells and whistles 3D Blu-ray fans demand. Back to Cloudy, the disc does have a few minor shortcomings that aren't at all on the same level as the missteps taken with the Monsters release, but they still warrant a mention. Most readily evident is the fact that Cloudy doesn't feature a 3D menu screen for the movie. Certainly, it's the movie presentation that counts, but it was somewhat disappointing to be all jazzed up to watch the disc, only to be greeted by a 2D menu screen. It's probably too late to hope for 3D menus on Monster House and Open Season, but hopefully Sony will make sure they're there for future releases (and please release Resident Evil: Afterlife 3D day-and-date with its 2D counterpart! Could that be the first live-action native 3D movie to make it to 3D Blu-ray? Could it be the first day-and-date Blu-ray 3D release? Only time will tell). Additionally, load times are a tad sluggish both after insertion and returning to the menu from the 3D sneak peaks. Other than that, there's really no room for complaint; the lack of a 3D menu is disappointing but not a deal breaker, and the load times will improve alongside the technology. Once again, bravo Sony.
Finally, watching Cloudy With a Chance of Meatballs in 3D proved a vastly entertaining experience. The biggest drawback is not one that's the fault of the disc but rather the technology at large; the glasses -- speaking only of Panasonic's -- are bulky and can get downright heavy. They do include an adjustable strap than can help distribute the weight, but they're fairly uncomfortable even during a 90-minute movie. Those watching with Panasonic's technology will find themselves fiddling with the glasses on more than one occasion, maybe even going so far as to simply hold them up off the nose for some much-needed relief. The glasses are easily the major -- and arguably only, at this juncture -- downside in the argument between home and theatrical 3D. The 3D glasses distributed at theaters are extremely lightweight and no more noticeable on the face than a pair of sunglasses. Home 3D technology has a ways to go in this area, primarily because home 3D uses different technology that's admittedly more practical for consumer use, but until the glasses become lighter and slimmer -- if not, someday, removed from the equation entirely -- they will always be the single-largest drawback to the home 3D experience, excluding, of course, the cost of the technology. Nevertheless, Cloudy With a Chance of Meatballs looks magnificent on Panasonic's 50" plasma display. Monsters vs. Aliens was screened again several days in advance of Cloudy With a Chance of Meatballs, and while the former delivers a wonderful 3D experience, Cloudy bests it with significantly less ghosting; in fact, that "double image" effect was only readily evident in two shots: one being off to the side of one of the fingers pointing at a young Flint as the children laugh at him after his spray-on shoes fiasco, and another visible on some background smokestacks seen when Flint and friends are taking off in the flying car later later in the film. That doesn't mean there aren't more instances; those were simply the ones that most readily stood out. Either way, the effect here is greatly diminished next to Monsters, which itself wasn't overpopulated with the effect by any stretch of the imagination. As with Monsters and Panasonic's 3D sampler disc, Cloudy With a Chance of Meatballs is more about depth than gimmicky scenes that feature objects that appear to extend beyond the boundaries of the screen. They're there, but they're reserved and worked into the story, rather than wrenched into the plot for the sake of making the audience gasp and jump back in their seats. Otherwise, the only other drawback to the Cloudy With a Chance of Meatballs home Blu-ray 3D experience came in the form of screen size; even at an honest 50" and with the picture's scope aspect ratio, the action seemed a bit small and cramped; the bigger the screen, it would seem, the better the full HD 3D experience.
Cloudy With a Chance of Meatballs 3D Blu-ray, Video Quality
Cloudy With a Chance of Meatballs' 3D Blu-ray presentation is delivered in mouth-watering 1080p video and is presented in what is, roughly, a 2.35:1 aspect ratio that replicates the film's original scope presentation. Note that Blu-ray.com's aspect ratio calculator measures the presentation at 2.29:1, whereas the original 2D-only release clocks in at 2.35:1; the slight alteration can likely be attributed to necessary tweaks in transferring the film to Blu-ray with its 3D elements intact. As for the image quality proper, is it any surprise that it's a joy to behold? Even the Columbia Pictures logo at the beginning of the film proves breathtaking. Colors dazzle, detail is amazingly intricate, and even a lens flare around the figure seems to add a bit of dimension to the 3D image.
Of course, the transfer's strengths lie in its amazing sense of depth and fantastic detailing. The image is more about space than it is poking the audience in the eye, and while it does offer the occasional shot that contains elements that seem to be floating out in front of the screen, the image impresses the most simply by creating a seamless sense of dimension throughout the film. It's easy to get a feel for just how much room there likely is between objects; a shot featuring Flint and his father speaking in front of the tackle shop, for instance, is a perfect showcase. It's a rather mundane shot, but such are the bread-and-butter of the 3D process, turning the ordinary into something that's awfully lifelike in the way the audience can appreciably gauge the distance between the characters and the building. Such is the norm throughout the film; there are a few deliberately flat images -- notably newscasts that are shown on the screen of a standard 2D television -- but the bulk of the film enjoys some incredible depth of field that's wonderfully seamless with only a couple of blatant instances of ghosting where the image doesn't quite mesh.
Detail is terrific; it appears to be on about the same level as the 2D version, but colors do appear slightly less vibrant here. As to the latter, however, that seems pretty standard across the 3D board; a recent RealD 3D theatrical viewing of Shrek Forever After 3D appeared particularly dim, and Monsters vs. Aliens' home 3D Blu-ray presentation, too, seemed just slightly less vibrant than its 2D counterpart. As for those scenes that offer the best 3D "pop," two that spring to mind are Flint's mishap with the FLDSMDFR as he puts a damper on the mayor's ribbon-cutting ceremony for the newly-minted Sardine Land, and a brief shot featuring a look at bacon at what appears to be the molecular level in chapter 10. All told, Cloudy With a Chance of Meatballs is a visual wonder on Blu-ray 3D; it will be interesting to see how the two slightly older films Sony is soon to release will look in 3D, as will it be intriguing to examine the technical attributes of this summer's brand-new crop of 3D films (notably the aforementioned Shrek, The Last Airbender, and Toy Story 3) as they (hopefully) arrive on 3D Blu-ray later in the year. Note that all screenshots in this review were captured directly from the 2D version of the film found on the 3D disc.
Cloudy With a Chance of Meatballs 3D Blu-ray, Audio Quality
The most obvious leap forward from Monsters vs. Aliens to Cloudy With a Chance of Meatballs is the inclusion of lossless soundtrack options, here in English, French, and Portuguese. The tracks seem to be carried over from the previous release, and that's just fine. It's a winner -- an easy five then, an easy five now -- and it's the perfect accompaniment to the 3D version's stellar visuals. This is a rich and zesty presentation, a delicious concoction that's wonderfully balanced and wholly satisfying. The track pushes the sound system hard in several places, not only delivering a wide array of surround information but pounding out some tight and precise bass, with special mention going to the scrumptiously gelatinous and bouncy lows that accompany the "house of Jell-O" sequence. Sound effects and music both are superbly balanced, the former coming through with precise imaging and generating some wonderfully discrete elements that truly draw the listener into the mayhem, while the latter is amazingly crisp and free-flowing, the perfect presentation of Composer Mark Mothersbaugh's (Nick & Norah's Infinite Playlist) score that's a wonderful combination of exciting, smooth, and epic notes. Spacing is wonderful; the speakers seem to vanish for that perfect 360-degree presentation. Dialogue is smooth and precise across the entire range of distinctive characters. Cloudy With a Chance of Meatballs' lossless soundtrack is a winner.
Cloudy With a Chance of Meatballs 3D Blu-ray, Special Features and Extras
As noted above, this 3D release of Cloudy With a Chance of Meatballs doesn't include all of the extras found on the 2D release -- notably absent is the commentary, the interactive features, and the DVD and digital copies -- but Sony has carried over most of the other extras while also adding short 1080p 3D samples (not trailers) of Monster House (1:09) and Open Season (1:29). The additional carryover content begins with A Recipe For Success: The Making of 'Cloudy With a Chance of Meatballs' (1080p, 10:51). This feature delivers a short recap of the plot which is followed by an examination of the film's connections to the original children's book, the actors' voiceover work, the creation of the film's digitally-created environments and special effects, and more. Key Ingredients: The Voices of 'Cloudy With a Chance of Meatballs' (1080p, 12:39) takes viewers behind-the-scenes and into the recording booth for a fascinating look at the process of adding voiceover work to the film. Two extended scenes -- Elevator Joke (1080p, 0:38) and Twister -- Early Cut With Awesome Food Fight (1080p, 1:59) -- are next. Early Development Scenes (1080p, 5:47) allow viewers to watch a pair of scenes -- Flint's Letter to Super Scientist Vance LeFleur and Early Storyboard Version of Twister -- in an early and rough hand-drawn state. Progression Reels With Introductions By Visual FX Supervisor Rob Bredow takes audiences through some of the processes involved in the building of a computer-animated film. The following segments are included: From Conceptual Paintings to Final Renderings: The Evolution of Color (1080p, 1:13), Roofless Restaurant Lighting Technology (1080p, 1:54), Environmental Clouds Surrounding Giant Meatball (1080p, 1:23), Making a Spaghetti Twister (1080p, 2:05), and Food Avalanche Elements (1080p, 1:32). Rounding out this collection of extras is Miranda Cosgrove's Raining Sunshine music video (480p, 3:45), Behind the Scenes of Miranda Cosgrove's 'Raining Sunshine' (480p, 2:17), and BD-Live functionality.
Cloudy With a Chance of Meatballs 3D Blu-ray, Overall Score and Recommendation
Is anyone really surprised that it's Sony -- arguably Blu-ray's most loyal studio since the format's inception -- leading the charge into the Blu-ray 3D revolution? Cloudy With a Chance of Meatballs isn't the very first Blu-ray 3D disc to market, but it is the first that's marketed to the 3D consumer -- every 3D consumer regardless of brand loyalty -- and available for purchase at an acceptable price point. It's a crucial first step in bringing this wonderful technology to the forefront; there's no telling how many 3D HDTVs have gone unsold for the complete absence of any 3D Blu-ray discs to buy alongside the shiny new television. It will be interesting to watch the sales numbers as more and more discs trickle out into the marketplace; no doubt Sony will continue releasing 3D titles beyond Cloudy, Monster House, and Open Season, and hopefully more studios will follow suit. This Blu-ray 3D release of Cloudy With a Chance of Meatballs rights just about every wrong that plagued DreamWorks' exclusively-bundled Monsters vs. Aliens disc. It's got a few lossless soundtracks and a decent supplemental package while also playing on 2D Blu-ray players and being sold at a consumer-friendly price. It's not a perfect package -- the menu screen should be in 3D and load times could be a bit faster -- but considering all the disc does right and its place as a historically-important home video release, Sony's 3D Blu-ray edition of Cloudy With a Chance of Meatballs earns my highest recommendation.
Cloudy With a Chance of Meatballs: Other Editions
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Cloudy With a Chance of Meatballs 3D Blu-ray, News and Updates
• Cloudy with a Chance of Meatballs 3D Blu-ray Announced - June 10, 2010
Sony Pictures Home Entertainment has announced the release of the first Blu-ray 3D title to be sold individually in the US: the CG animated adventure Cloudy With a Chance of Meatballs. It will be available "at select retailers" from June 22 (yes, less than two ...
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